By Brandon Mathis
BREEN – For farmers and ranchers in the Breen area, the days of last spring and summer won’t be easily forgotten.
Drought conditions and steady winds created health and safety hazards for residents. Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary often kept children inside for recess. Roads were plowed of the mounting dust. Above all, the good earth – the very soil that farmers depended on – was being blown away.
Now, La Plata County and agencies such as the Colorado State University Extension, La Plata Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Veterans Homestead Project are trying to help.
About 60 regional residents, mostly who graze or till the land for their livelihood, gathered in Breen at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary on Saturday for a panel discussion and presentation called Putting Grasslands to Work, a series of solutions – holistic solutions – to what have been called dust bowl conditions on the mesa.